Gonorrhea is one of the most common STIs (or STDs) in the United States. Although it is treatable, more cases of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea are being reported. Here is what you need to know about gonorrhea and how to protect yourself.
What is gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection that affects the female uterus, cervix, and fallopian tubes, as well as the female and male urethra, rectum, eyes, mouth, and throat. Gonorrhea is most common among young people from ages 15-24. Cases of gonorrhea have been steadily increasing. Since 2015 there has been a more than 50% increase in cases in the U.S.
What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?
Many people with gonorrhea are asymptomatic and show no signs of the infection. If symptoms do present themselves in men they can include green, yellow, or white urethral discharge.
For women, the symptoms can be very mild and mistaken for a vaginal or bladder infection. Symptoms can include a burning sensation when urinating, bleeding between periods, and an increase in vaginal discharge.
The only surefire way to know if you have been infected with gonorrhea is to get tested regularly.
How does gonorrhea affect me?
If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause serious health problems. In women, when gonorrhea reaches the fallopian tubes, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can lead to lead to chronic pelvic pain, endoscopic pregnancy (a life-threatening pregnancy that takes place outside of the fallopian tubes), or (in rare cases) infertility in men and women.
Why is gonorrhea becoming resistant to treatment?
Gonorrhea is curable with a prescription. Medication prescribed to you should not be shared. The medication should be taken by the person it’s prescribed to for the treatment to work properly.
There are several reasons why gonorrhea is becoming hard to treat, some of which include overuse of antibiotics, treatment with the wrong antibiotics, or poor quality of antibiotics. Therefore, it’s important to closely follow the treatment regimen your doctor prescribes.
How do I prevent gonorrhea?
Like other STIs, gonorrhea can be prevented with the regular and proper use of condoms. Although condoms will prohibit gonorrhea from infecting sex organs, there is not much protection from infection in a person’s mouth, throat, or eyes.
Getting tested so you know the STI status of you and your partners and refraining from sexual activity while a person is infected are the best ways to keep yourself safe.